At Journey’s End

The orcs attempt to cross the river had failed, as evidenced by the large pile of warm bodies strewn in front of the gatehouse. Blood and entrails streaked all across the broken gate. Only a few, grim men stood before and atop it, exhausted due to the exertion of the morning’s bloody work. Atop the gatehouse Corunir, Tarandir, and Folco the Hobbit, looked on with a relieved satisfaction. Below Brognir and his men stood vigilantly at the gate they had fought so hard to protect. Despite their attempt, none of them could have been described as fearsome in that moment. They were tired, bloodied and battered men. If another group of orcs wished to challenge them they would all haven fallen due to exhaustion. Thankfully however the rest of the garrison came to relieve them.

Amdir was with them, but unlike the rest of the garrison, he and his men were just as bloody and exhausted as they were. They walked on up to the gate and greeted one another, happy in their victory. When they all had reunited near the gate each man began to tell the other of his part in the battle. Corunir told of his and folco’s prowess with the bow, and of Tarandir’s melee with the orcs atop the wall.  Brognir tersely told of his defense at the gate. Amdir told of his duels with deadly orcish infiltrators in the houses and streets of the city. As each man had told of his deeds in the battle they began to speak of their parts in the war altogether. From their trip to Mirkwood, their flight from the Trollshaws, and the battle of the Hoarwell, each man and hobbit, had grown along the way, but they were not done growing yet. They had fought and traversed through so much, all for a single purpose. To keep the green things growing, the children laughing and the people smiling. . It was then that each of them slowly began to realize one last part about themselves as well. That they did not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. They loved only that which they had defended.

 

Scavengers

Whether out of desperation or greed, war often turns men and orcs into scavengers and vultures. As your battle company is surveying the aftermath of the battle for the Hoarwell, they come across a group of scavengers attempting to profit from the lawlessness. They seek to stop you from taking their ill gotten gains and attack you without warning.

Your battle company will be facing Twice as many Scavengers as there are members of your battle company. They may be represented as either orcs or men. Scavengers are strength 3, fight 3, armor 3, attack 1, courage 2, hand weapon equipped models.

In addition to the scavengers there will also be a scavenger’s leader. He is a strength 4, armor 5, fight 4, attack 2, 1 might, 1 will, 1 fate, model. He is equipped with a 2handed sword, and a concealing cloak.

Naive confidence: All bandits are immune from morale checks as long as their leader is still alive.

 

Rewards for victory

1 one additional influence point

2 concealing cloak (2 points)

3 Jar of Poison, your hero may reroll all wound rolls of 1. (1 point)

4 local scout (if your battle company is full you may choose one of the other options)

5 Elven Sword

6 The model that slew the bandit leader may choose to increase their fight/strength/defense/attacks as if they had rolled on the progression chart.

Battle of The Hoarwell

The battle of the Hoarwell

It had been over a year since the rangers set off on their quest toward Mirkwood. The rangers had found the source from which all of the evil had been stemming from on their journey. However they were unable to warn their comrades in Eriador before it was too late. The orcs had already passed over the mountains and were making their way toward the ranger’s hidden strongholds. A series of frantic battles broke out across the Troll Shaws as the Rangers attempted to escape the rampaging hordes. With the help of Tarandir and his company along with a contingent of Gondorian allies, the rangers were able to successfully disengage from their holds and cull the hordes of orcs. While the rangers were able to escape the hordes, they had to retreat across the Hoarwell.

The river proved to be a valuable defensive asset letting neither side cross its frothy banks. Each side would probe and skirmish the other in an attempt to find a weak point in the others defenses. None could find a weakness in the other. After nearly a year fighting along the banks, in his impatience, the Dark Master unleashed his hoards on the last bride in a brute force attack. Many orcs tried to swim across and drowned, while others tried to cross the bridge and were beaten back. Unfortunately in the midst of the chaos some orcs were able to cross the river; however with the sheer losses the orcs suffered they were not able to capitalize on their advances. While successful in their defense, the Rangers were not able to capitalize on their victory either as they had to chase down the orcs that did make it across. The stalemate over the Hoarwell would continue until either side made a decisive move.

Amdir, son of Garafon, has since made a name for himself amongst the rangers for his prowess in combat, first for slaying a troll and now for slaying a great deal of orcs.

Tarandir has proven his tactical aptitude again and again leading the company to many victories.

Brognir has used his immense might to tear through the orcs in many engagements

Folco, a curious little hobbit has been in the company and surprisingly proved courageous and capable in battle.

Colors of Royalty: Home at the Last

Many moons had passed since Thoif had last set foot here at home in the Iron Hills. When he had walked these decorated stone halls, the temperatures had been cooler. Truly, though, temperatures had never fluctuated too erratically under the mountains. The dark caverns and their winding streams of water kept the air crisp and surprisingly light.

 

He had missed his family, his friends, and the cozy hearth that welcomed him back to his just as comfortable den; but most of all, ashamedly to admit, the sweet Dwarven drought of the Iron Hills! The humor brought a slight grin to his lips, but it was all hidden by his heavy, sand colored beard.

 

No place like home, indeed.

 

The return journey had not been without incident. After the Gondorian Mablung the Bold had returned to the Dwarves their lost treasures, and the subsequent assassination attempt of his leader Ondoher, Mhulo ordered their weary company return to the Iron Hills with much haste. All agreed with the Dwarf: surely their people would rejoice at the discovery that was made.

 

As if the Valar had seen fit to jest and twist the fates, many attempts had been made by the legions of Evil to impede their mission home. The same Orcish warband from Mordor that had hunted the Dwarves from the beginning, led by Snagash the Terrible with his poisonous whip, ambushed their company just west of the dense boughs of Mirkwood.

 

At that juncture, the Dwarves numbered nine stout, heavily armored bodies (many more than the previous encounters with the foul Snaga), and promptly bested the grotesques back into the wildlands, successfully guarding that precious cargo which they carried.

 

Soon after, as the Dwarves had made their way farther east amongst the rocky southron outcroppings of the Grey Mountains, a seemingly stray cave troll had burst through their campsite, roaring and tossing small boulders at their broad shields. A roaring, slobbering troll was a terrible sight indeed, but the Dwarves knew not the tendrils of fear that grasped at their hearts.

 

With Iron will and drilled martial excellence, the troll was brought low and Kemlek buried the blunt end of his mattock into the brains of the creature, for good measure.

 

Now, as Thoif scanned this Great Hall, he was truly able to grasp the scale of their mission. The return of Mhulo and his company was met with such fanfare as none of them had ever witnessed. Word had been sent to Torvim of their company’simpending arrival, in addition to the precious artifacts they were carrying with them. Dwarven citizens from many a district in the Hills had gathered to welcome them home, and celebrate their victory.

 

Most importantly, they were greeted by King Gror himself.

 

So here they were in the Hall, the royal colors hanging unabashedly from every stone pillar, balcony and palisade. Near the far end of the room they resided, merely speaking distance away from Gror and his mighty color guard. Torvim and several of his aids stood shortly off to the left of the throne, books and scrolls hanging from heavy chains about their belts. Mhulo was at the fore, right of Thoif, on bended knee like the rest of his company.

The presence of the King was stifling. As trained and disciplined as the Dwarves were, to be here in this moment was not so much a burden on their minds as it was a heavy, pressing wonder. Thoif was sweating slightly, though he was unsure why. To his left, Kemlek was still as brick, mailed fist to the ground, followed by Nasek and Thalrir. On the other side of Mhulo knelt the rest of their company- Duk, Dolvin, Khain and Mon.

In front of them all rested the gilded chest given to them by Ondoher and his company of Gondorian Men. The lid was open and the tomes displayed. The King, still on his throne, sat with arms extended- the blue, lambent mantle flowing down through his outstretched fingers. The mystical ancestry on the outer facing of the cloak was highly visible, emanating a soft white light like that of a trapped star.

“Here today, Mhulo and friends, you have brought to your people the knowledge of our histories, and so much more. Our Loremasters have nigh begun to scrape merely the surface of what precious gems reside inside those books before us.” Grorrumbled softly. Despite his quiet demeanor, the stone chambers radiated his commanding tone. “Rise, good Dwarves.”

Mhulo at the lead, the Dwarves stood as a unit. Their iron armor had been repaired, polished and lacquered for the occasion- not a finer sight in all the lands stood above the armor that gleamed with its dark silver and golden accents. The sounds of layered pauldrons and tassets clinking echoed shortly, then died after the stone hall would carry them no more.

“It was unbeknownst to me, until a short time ago, that these things before us were recovered by the Western Men, of Gondor.” The King continued. His beard was densely adorned with jewels and iron decoration, so much that the light reflected dimly around the chambers.

“Aye, my lord.” Mhulo replied. “It saddens my heart to tell you that I had failed in my original mission to take these things from the lands I had been sent to retrieve-“

Gror stayed the Dwarfs words with a gilded gauntlet.

“My son. Does this chest not sit here before us? Or do mine eyes deceive me like foul nightmares?” came the kings low, rumbling response. “Yes, young one. Be humble in all things, and indeed thankful to the friends that brought us these prizes. Our people are now deeply indebted to their causes. Did you not carry these here yourself, however? How many Orcs, trolls, and evil men had you slain and rebuked when you returned and set foot upon these hills? Indeed, have you sat idle upon your journeys? Are those scars that you and your kin now bear for naught?” Gror retorted, gesturing to the assembly before him.

Mhulo knelt again, humble and speechless in gratitude and in modesty.

“Our friends need help, Mhulo.” Gror said, now standing and walking around the group before him. “Duk, Dolvin, Thoif, Khain, Kemlek, Nasek, Thalrir, Mon. All, brothers of Iron! Here, Dama.”

As the King gestured, a color guard stepped forward, bearing a flag of marvelous make.

Dama, you shall travel with these companions and share in all of their glories. Take my colors, and stay the enemy with your wrath and your will.”

Dama saluted, slamming the stave into the ground.

“I am King Gror, of the Iron Hills. The Men that assisted us in our recovery, we will find them. I wish to thank them myself for their kindness. We will march together friends, in the morning, we move out.”

Thoif stiffened. Had he heard that correctly? The King moved to war with them? He swelled with an intense pride, and closed his eyes. History was being forged before him now, and he would relish every bit of it.

 

River Rats

 

Whether out of desperation or greed, war often turns men into bandits and thieves. As your battle company is patrolling the Swanfleet, they come across a group of scavengers attempting to profit from the lawlessness. They seek to stop you from taking their ill gotten gains and attack you without warning.

Your battle company will be facing 19 bandits. Bandits are strength 3, fight 3, armor 3, attack 1, courage 2, sword equipped models.

In addition to the 19 bandits there will also be a bandit leader. He is a strength 4, armor 5, fight 5, attack 2, model, 1 might, 1 will, 1 fate, model. He is equipped with a 2handed sword, and a concealing cloak.

Naive confidence: All bandits are immune from morale checks as long as their leader is still alive.

 

Rewards for victory

1 one additional influence point

2 concealing cloak (3 points)

3 poisoned dagger (1 point)

4 local scout (if your battle company full you may choose one of the other options)

5 long sword ( a sword that may also be used as a spear) (Free)

6 The model that slew the bandit leader may choose to increase their fight/strength/defense/attacks as if they had rolled on the progression chart.

 

 

 

Retrieving Mablung- Brigade of the White City

Ondoher and his men looked into a dark ruin. Ondoher gave some quick and low commands to search the land for enemies around the perimeter.

In the center of of the ruined buildings was tied Mablung. He was nearly unconscious and could barely move nor speak. Ondoher approached quickly when he saw him, and motioned for a few others to enter as well. Arveleg and Hurin approached from the South, while Turin, Malbeth and Hirgon approached from the East and Ondoher entered from the West, followed quickly by Turgon and Thorondir. As they approached, they quickly saw that they were not alone. Haradrim entered the crumbling building from all sides. Quickly, arrows were fired from both sides of the field, but none found a killing blow.

Turin saw two bow men and feared they would run off before he could charge them, and so quickly wheeled his mount around and charged the both of them, striking them both down without mercy. Meanwhile, Hirgon and Malbeth were fighting the enemy just north of Turin, and they were fought back, and Hirgon was injured, but Turin wheeled about again to ride down the enemies of Gondor. “For Mablung!” cried Malbeth as they were sticking the enemy down swiftly.

Meanwhile, Ondoher gave orders for Turgon and Thorondir to secure Mablung and stay guard as he charged northward to bring down two captains of the enemy. He was parried once or twice, but their spears were no match for his horse and keen lance.

It was near mid-battle that Bareth finally arrived on the battle field from the North. While still in the perimeter, he had tripped over some roots, but he was able to arrive in time to see a Harad bowman who was firing down upon his brothers-in-arms. He posted up behind him, and with his shield up, managed to fight the enemy back and shove him off of his perch, casting the bowman down and he died there. “Mablung!” Bareth cried. “Mablung!”

In the South, Arveleg and Hurin had noticed that they were quickly followed by another bowman, and while burin laid down some cover fire, Arveleg charged in quickly and dispatched the enemy.

It was not long before the Haradrim were all laid low, and the men of Gondor quickly lifted the waking Mablung from his resting place. “I.. didn’t expected… ugh!” He winced as they helped him onto Ondoher’s Horse. “…to see any of your ugly mugs again!” He breathed heavily from the horse.

“You didn’t think you would get rid of us so easily, did you?” asked Malbeth.

They also helped Hirgon onto the mount of Turin.

“Come quickly, men,” urged Ondoher. “We may have slain these, but who knows what enemies could be nearby?”

They silently fled that field of battle, and traveled many miles before finally choosing a resting place. There they tended to their wounds, and set a camp fire and prepared from some well earned rest.

So it was that Mablung had his first true rest in days.

When they all awoke the next day, Mablung spoke of his ordeal with the Easterlings. Instead of dragging him along, they instead found this ruin, and tied him there to die. Fortunately his wounds had not been so severe from the battle, but it was a long time without food, regardless.

Then, Ondoher regaled the tale of the siege of the Dunedain fortress. “It appears much has happened in my time away,” affirmed Mablung. “I am happy to see you all still living to tell of the tale!”

After their morning meal had been consumed, Turgon finally asked something they had all been thinking. “Where do we go from here? We have not heard from our allies in some time, so we do not know of what battles there are to fight, not of where we might do the most good. I think also that we could all do with some rest.”

Ondoher thought for a moment. Turgon was right. They had no idea where to proceed from here. They had been in these northern lands for some time, now, and there was no clear agenda that he could see. “We do need rest, I agree,” said Ondoher. ”I think it would be wise to maybe locate a local haven that we can take that reset in, and from there, strike out to the enemy from there. Perhaps if we locate ourselves in a place like this, we could also be contacted easier.” He pulled out a map from his satchel. “Amon Sul was taken long ago, so that would not do. Eregion is not bustling often anymore either, due mostly to the War of the Elves and the Dark Lord. Bree could be a good place, but it is not necessarily going to be friendly to Soldiers from a far off Kingdom.”

Ondoher went on like this for some time. The men all made a few suggestions, but none could really be counted on for certain without knowing the exact lay of the land. “We need a place that our Northern Kin would be welcomed and could send messages hither and yon.”

It was then that Bareth spoke up. “What of Imladris?”

Arveleg chuckled. “Ah yes! Let’s just walk right into… oh what was the name they call it.. Ah yes, the Hidden Valley. It will be a snap!”

“Now, don’t be so antagonistic, soldier,” responded Hurin. “The Hidden Valley it may be, but Rivendell is far from impossible to find. I will find it myself, sir.” He turned to Ondoher. Clearly this man was determined.

“Then go forth, Ranger of Gondor,” declared Ondoher. “But return swiftly of any news! We cannot sit here in the wilderness forever! I will give you till mid-day tomorrow, then we must move on.“

And with that, the young ranger was off like a deer, leaping into the brush. They waited in that same area for the rest of that day. They hunted as they needed, and made sure to keep an eye out for enemies, but nothing was seen. The night fell, and the next day came, and no sign was seen of Hurin. Then Mid-day came. Still no Hurin. There was a tension in the air, s Hurin was not a bad ranger, for certain. He was one of the best ones they new.

“Well, leave it to Hurin to be the one ranger who can’t range,” quipped Arveleg, trying to ease the tension.

“We will give him two hours more,” Ondoher asserted.

The first hour passed. Still no word from Hurin. The second hour passed. Nothing. “We must move on, men,” the captain stated reluctantly.

They gathered their things and began heading north. “I guess Bree will have to do,” thought Ondoher. The injured were placed on horses, and the company traveled on for an hour, when Turin turned around to casually check behind. He saw the trees move about, and then out of the bushes came Hurin himself.

“There you all are!” took me nearly half an hour to find you! Where are you off to?”

“Well, we were headed to Bree, if you must no.” Responded Ondoher. He approached the ranger and stood before him to a great height, looking much taller than the young man. “Why did you not return hen I specifically gave you an order!”

“Well, I was pressing my self harder when I thought about returning, but then I just felt that fate was smiling on me, so I went further, I checked every path and by-way I could. Elves are particularly difficult to follow, even in groups! Just as I was about to give up, I was suddenly surrounded by elves! ‘What brings you here?’ they asked, menacingly with their powerful bows at the ready. ‘My companions and I seek the shelter of Imladris,’ I said. ‘ my captain Ondoher sends me. We have injured men and need shelter!’ Then they changed their tune! They knew of you and our deeds, and quickly told me the best way to return without leading enemies to the Hidden Valley.”

Turgon turned to Ondoher, whispering, ”You do realize he deserves a promotion for this, right?”

“Not without making him sweat, first, “ replied the captain, subtly. Then he turned to Hurin. “Take us there. Double quick! You haven’t convinced me out of calling you a fool yet!”

So it was that Hurin quickly and quietly lead the brigade to Rivendell. There, they were welcomed by Elrond Half-Elven, and Mablung and Hirgon’s wounds treated. They stayed there for weeks. It was in this time that Mablung was healed of any remaining wounds. Hirgon would need a bit more time to mend, but he was on his way.

It was also in this time that messages from Dunedain and other companies in the North were attained, giving Ondoher a much better idea about the conflict as it stands. Ondoher Also found that his men were at their best when he was there in the thick of the battle, leading by example. The last few battles taught him this, so he will certainly use that to his advantage.

Turin also found that helping to return his Brother in arms to safety gave him this feeling for patriotism that none could extinguish. His charging in will certainly allow him to fight harder.

From the Elves, Turgon learned much, and became deathly accurate with his bow. Arveleg and Hurin also gained Elf Bows from the elves that were made in the style of Minas Tirith. Arveleg also found himself a horse as well. This would make following Ondoher a bit easier to do.

After a few days of rest, Ondoher did eventually give Hurin a further promotion. He was not a fully Fledged Ranger Captain.

Now, with more gear at their disposal, and more intel, Ondoher and his men could more effectively assist the Rangers of the North.

A Trollshaws Wedding

With the ranger’s retreat from the Trollshaws, the denizens that were once controlled are now free to their own devices. Many strange unions are sure to be made in the midst of the power rift. As your battle company is patrolling in the area you hear the sound of discordant instruments and tone deaf singing. When your company finds the source of the terrible music they are astonished to find two trolls with wreaths of flowers on their heads and many treasures on a table nearby. Accompanying them are several orc servants, roasting meals and pampering the two trolls.

The enemy warband consists of 2 cave trolls and 5 mordor orcs.

Slavish servants: when one troll is dead the orcs must make courage tests. If both are dead any orcs still left must flee.

Victory is achieved when there are no enemies left on the board.

Rewards Table

1 d3 influence

2 Wedding Feast: All warriors and heroes that were knocked out of action count as rolling a full recovery. Heroes that did not go out of action may heal one current injury.

3 Elven Blade

4 Elven Bow

5 Troll wedding ring +1 fate (10 point)

6 Elven Masterwork Armor: Heavy Armor with a +1 to defense. (10 points)

Inner strife- The Scorpion’s Sting

Haarith and his men had been waiting near Dol Guldur for over a month. It was a wicked place, even by the standards of the Haradrim. an evil was there that could not be shaken. They had not received any word from the South in all this time. Haarith was concerned that no help would come.

He looked at his men often, and was certainly concerned that they would follow another, or would outright kill him. He had to be on his guard. Since the previous battle, he noticed that Abaan was less than agreeable more often than not. Was this a degree of rebellion? Bakr was still loyal to him, he could see, but for how long? Who could Haarith trust now? Certainly not Na’maan, that was clear. His absent-minded archery was proof enough of that. Maybe it was all a plan… a planned coup drummed up by Abaan himself! How dare he! That sniveling snake wouldn’t be in any sort of command if it weren’t for Haarith! “I will deal with that coward soon enough,” he thought.

The men were clearly growing restless. They had not seen battle in some time. Na’maan was healed from his beating, but he was ever more cautious around Haarith. Their leader came around and said, “I am going into the fortress… Again.” Na’maan avoided eye contact, as he knew his true hatred would be seen otherwise.  “But I will return, and when I do, we will discuss our next move. Bakr! You are in charge while I am away!” And with that, he turned and left.  Na’Maan sat alone, fletching his arrows. The others appeared to be moving about and not really doing much else, nor focusing any attention on him.

Before long, though,  he noticed Abaan approaching, as inconspicuous as he could muster. “Greetings, friend,” he spoke in a hushed tone. Na’Maan nodded back silently. “How goes the healing, Na’Maan?”

“Messy,” he replied, pointing to his back. Abaan peered into the inside of his armor and clothes. The once bloody back was healing up, but not quickly. “Even the slightest of moves and the scabbing just starts bleeding again, even with that disgusting poultice those orcs gave me helping some.”

“A nasty bit of business, that beating you took,” Continued Abaan. Na’maan continued is work in silence. “I would say that this was a failure, not on your part, but on the part of Haarith himself. He loves flaunting his power about, but he does not do it in the most efficient way.” Na’Maan continued his work, but was also looking out for others, but none were around, or at the very least were not paying attention. Abaan got really close, and spoke  in a hoarse whisper nearly inches from his face. “I believe that when leading, it is more… encouraging for your inferiors to see what you are willing to do for them should they succeed, rather than what you will do to them should they fail.” He slid a coin purse near to Na’maan. “ Think of that should you ever think to shoot near our illustrious leader again…” Abaan stood up and walked off, smiling as he went.

After some time, Haarith returned. Bakr saw that his face was thoughtful. “What is one your mind, master?” Bakr was hoping to get nearer to Haarith after the previous month’s events. He would not be the one to take a beating for failure, that was to be certain. “You seem like you know not what to do with what you have learned.”

Haarith was lost in thought when he suddenly understood what Bakr had asked him. He smiled. “Yes, indeed, I am, Bakr. There are a few assignments that could be achieved, but I do not know which to take from this point. But I will in due time!”

Suddenly, a single Harad bowman approached the camp the company had setup on the outskirts of Dol Guldur. Yazan, the old veteran of the group, recognized him immediately. “Haashin!” He bowed his head, greeting him with what appeared to be respect, something Yazan showed little of to his current peers.

“Ah! Yazan,”The bowman exclaimed. “It is good to see a familiar face among these juveniles!” The two veterans embraced.

“The last time I saw you were riding away east on the ass of a Mumak! What brings you here?”

“Well, Aqil appears to believe this whole endeavor is too important for the rest of you to ruin. Especially after what we heard of the last encounter with the elves. So he sent me to assist.” He turned to Haarith. “I am at your command, mighty Haarith. I have heard much of your endeavors at home and I pledge myself to your cause.”

Haarith welcomed the new comer. This new arrival lead  him to believe that he could proceed with one specific assignment. He dashed back to Dol Guldur and returned before long.

“We must leave at once,” he declared, beginning to pack his things and load up his horse. “There is a company of Iron Hills brats that need to be stopped. They have a token that could make them a tough foe to deal with in the future, and the Masters of Dol Guldur have signed their death warrant.”

The troupe began legging it and traveled as fast as their feet could carry them.

They made their way through to treacherous and evil wood around Dol Guldur, passing various Orc and warg packs as they went. They soon came to the open plains of Wilderland, and crossed the River Running before long. It was about 100 miles south of the Long Lake and the city of Laketown that the Came upon the stunted enemy.

There, on the top of hill, was posted the retinue of dwarves. These are no ordinary dwarves the ones from before. These were clearly dwarves prepared for a skirmish. Their armor was heavy and they had an air of awareness that the small band of dwarves before seemed to lack.

A few road on beasts that the men of Harad had never seen before… great horns they had. Stout yet nimble horses with gnarled horns and filthy, matted beards. Almost as poorly groomed as the dwarf scum themselves. “A perfect pairing,” thought Haashin.

“We must take the hill in order to take those relics from them,” ordered Haarith.

Yazan and Haashin gave each other a look. They had fought many a battle, and knew an un-winnable one when they saw it. However, being the veterans, they knew their example was to be set In order to keep the men loyal to their cause, and to their leader.

Abaan, however caught the gaze of Na’maan. They were clearly not expecting such a rash move on the part of Haarith. They would follow for now… perhaps this would be the slip up that would swing the party’s favor away from Haarith.

“Archers, form up at that wall and do not stop the barrage,” barked their leader. “Spears with me!”

The spears made their way closer as the archers formed up behind a wall. They slowly made their advance, ever wary of the charge of enemy goats. Haarith wanted to charge the enemy on their terms, but this was not going to come for them. As they advanced, a crossbow bolt struck him in the stomach. I shot clean through out his stomach, but he continued forward. Moments later, he was struck again, and was shot down from his horse and saw and heard no more.

As he woke, Haarith saw that all his men had. Wen struck down by the enemy. They had been defeated, and it was not easy to mistake. They all lay there on the field of battle. The dwarves and left already, carrying their accursed relic.

Haarith stood up and began rallying the men to get out of sight. His horse had left the site of the battle, but had not gone far. He lead the beast back to the men who were setting up a camp as best they could. As they  sat and ate their evening meal, no one spoke a word. Unaar and Haashin would not be ready for combat for some time. Unaar apparently managed to wound one of the War goats, but not long before he had his chest caved in by the captain who’s beast he felled. Haashin also was wounded by the mattock of one of the enemies, a terrible injury that looked rather abhorrent.

As they sat in silence, Haarith was going over what to do next. There was no way to guarantee the loyalty of the warriors now. It would take a true miracle.

But then, it would appear the gods smiled upon Haarith this day, for his opportunity came in the form of a Serpent rider, an elite horse-lancer body guard of Harad. “Greetings, mighty Haarith!” Called the unfamiliar face. “My name is Butaan and I bring a message from Aqil, and supplies for you and your men. And a mighty salve to cure the wounds from the mistakes made by your lessers!” Na’maan was furious at this remark.

When the equipment was all passed about, it was clear that the message sent home was received. Haarith was given a new bow, as well as bits of metal and armor to shore up his defenses. The same type of additions were given to Bakr and Abaan. There was also brought a horse for Abaan as well, and he would now use his spear as a lance as well on the back of the beast.

The supplies also cured the arm wound received from the elves not long ago, and these would clearly help in getting the men all back to their best health to fight again. Haarith quickly spun the whole thing in his favor. He began reminding his men of the message he sent to Aqil and that it was he who sent it and how great a help it was to them.

Abaan thought the defeat would be their focus to get the morale swinging towards hatred of Haarith, but it would not be so for the moment. Abaan had been training in secret on his own to be able to take on Haarith in a traditional challenge known as Haabarth, but things were not quite in his favor yet. For now, they would stay under the leadership of this mood-swinging Mumak. For now…

The Search for Mablung- Brigade of the White City

Ondoher finally awoke from a sleep of many nightmares. His evenings reset had not given him much the next day. He kept having recurring dreams of watching poor Mablung fall, and variations on him being taken hostage. It had been a week since the attack of the Easterlings and Goblins upon the camp with the Dwarves, and only 5 days since the host of Orcs and Haradrim  assaulted the crumbling fortress. Ondoher stood up and walked about the camp, thinking hard on the next move.

Much had occurred as a result of that fortress assault. The assault had come suddenly, and even the many Rangers of the North that were holed up in the fortress had not expected such sudden attack. They decided it would be best to leave as soon as possible with the Relics that had been stowed there.

Ondoher lead a charge of Knights of Minas Tirith that had been brought by his cousin, Ostoher, many times into the fray. He charged many of the large orcs down and trampled them beneath the hoof of his horse, Alagos. In the bustle of the battle, Ondoher also managed to find himself a lance of old make, but still well kept. He took it for his own and would use it from this day forward.

Turgon made an attempt with some of the rangers to take a relic off into the woods, but he was waylaid and he was forced to fight with sword in hand, and he slew many. When the battle finally subsided, Turgon examined the relic they had been given. It was none other than a Numenorean Steel bow. The ancient Numenoreans carried bows of great power. This one was no exception. The same distance as a normal bow, but pack a punch as hard as a dwarves crossbow. He would put it to great use.

Turin single handedly charged with his horse and new lance, both acquired at the fortress, many times, and in the process learned much of the need for swiftness in battle, and being able to aid his brothers when they needed help.

Arveleg showed much valor on the battle field, and has been a loyal follower from even before this grand venture. It was because of this that Ondoher promoted him to the position of a Citadel Guard. Arveleg immediately pledged his loyalty to Ondoher, and now took on the role of his Body Guard, a surprising choice to all, knowing Arveleg’s nature as a trickster.

Hirgon also slew many at his feet, as did the new comers Malbeth and Thorondir. It was because of this great valor that he witnessed that a Minas Tirith Warrior named Bareth pledged his sword to the cause of Ondoher.  He was not able to fight by their side, as he had been injured, but he was able to witness the great things that had been done by The Brigade of the White Tower as they fought their way out of that fortress. “I do not come from a noble family, sir,” said the young man, of age 17 at best guess.  “I have not honors or titles, but I do have a sword. I pledged it once to fight for the Kingdom of Gondor. Now, I pledge it to you, Ondoher, much as my ancestors pledged their swords to King Eldacar to fight against The Usurper. I will follow you and assist this Company as best I can, until my life be ended.” Ondoher gladly took this man’s pledge. He was honorable enough, and Ostoher spoke highly of him. He apparently volunteered only a year ago, at 16, the youngest one could join the White City’s ranks. He was clearly not of Numenorean blood, you could see in his eye the passion and fervor that would be needed greatly in any battles to come.

Ondoher looked back at the last few weeks’ events, and thought to himself, “But what should I learn from all this?” we wandered slowly, a bit further out from the camp. He examined the terrain carefully. Ondoher and his comrades had been searching tirelessly through the lands south of the Ettenmoors, near the Govadmilui Sarnianu. They started near it, and then started searching wider and wider. Who knows where those accursed evil-worshipers had left poor Mablung. They could have left him anywhere.

“Two ambushes have we dealt with,” he pondered. “One quite successful,” he thought, rubbing his recent arrow wound. “One failing, but only just.” He looked off in the distance into the trees. “We must learn from our mistakes” he said allowed, to Turgon, who now stood silently beside him. “You men must continue the search. I am going to remain for the time being and study what I can among my strategy tomes. I will not stop until you have returned, and maybe this will give us a leg up in the future!”

“We will continue looking, Ondoher. I will send someone back with word if we find him. Fear not, Lieutenant. We will find him before long!”

So Ondoher left Turgon’s presence, leaving Turgon at the lead for the search.

“All right, men, pair up. Thorondir and Hirgon. Turin and Bareth. Malbeth and Hurin. Arveleg, you’re with me. We will search in a fan from here, facing east. If you find anything, give a whistle like a song bird, and meet back here. One of the pair should head straight back to Ondoher.  If you find anything, return back here at sunset. No need to get another one of you luck heads getting lost in the Wilderness!”

With that, the pairs each methodically searched in an arch, gradually getting further from one another. Hurin and Malbeth tramped forth searching the clearings, and even the rough patches. Hurin could tell that Malbeth was seething, frustrated that they still had not found Mablung. “I know you are concerned, Malbeth,” he said, calmly. “We all are. However, I think that you would be able to think more clearly if you would just take a second to calm yourself. We don’t know what has become of him yet. They may have left him long ago. Or they may have kept him for leverage. But in any case, we will find him and we will bring him home, I know it.” His words did not appear to change anything about Malbeth’s demeanor. Hurin knew of their close friendship, so he understood to an extent, but this was bordering on something terrifying to behold. May the Valar protect any who might stand in his way…

The search went on for the remainder of the day, but still nothing had been found. The respective parties all returned, and came back to the campsite.

There they found Ondoher straining to read his tomes by the firelight. You could tell he had been studying all day. He had removed his armor for utmost ease just sitting on the ground, but as he looked up, the firelight also revealed bloodshot eyes and hair that had not been touched all day. When he saw them, he grimaced, seeing that they had not returned with Mablung. The men all came and sat around the fire. Ondoher passed out rations and they had a rest as they ate.

They first observed the nightly moment of silence, looking towards Númenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be. They began eating, and as they did so, Ondoher spoke. “We have searched every inch of this area for a mile in every direction. I think we should move on to the next area of the surrounding lands. I think it would be best to move quickly tonight about 3 miles north of here, and continue the search in a new sector.”

Everyone agreed this was the best way forward. They finished eating, and immediately gathered the supplies and tents, and headed north. There was little to see as they traveled, but before long, Ondoher said, “Here is where we shall camp.” They stopped in a pretty decent sized clearing, and began to setup camp. They were quite exhausted, so they all quickly fell asleep.

It was Bareth that first awakened to the sound of song birds in the trees. He stood to his feet and went to relieve himself out a ways from the camp. As he finished his business, a glint of sunlight of something metal caught his eye as he trend to rejoin the company. He turned back and approached where he saw the shining reflection, carefully. He did not need to search long for the source. There, lying unconscious before him was a warrior of Minas Tirith, laying face down. He turned the face to look at him. A younger man, but with thick arms and legs. He was a behemoth compared to most men, with hands that were not much smaller than Bareth’s own young head. “Mablung indeed,” he thought.

Bareth attempted to lift the man, but he was too scrawny, and Mablung was too heavy to lift on his own, heavy armor all included. Mablung could not be wakened, even after trying to lift him.  “Time to fetch the others, I suppose,” he said, breathing heavily as he stood. It was then that he heard noise in the distance. Surely the enemy was near. He ran as hard as he could, but as silent as his armor would let him. He quickly roused the others. “To arms, friends,” he whispered, finger to his lips. “I have found our Mablung, but I believe there is an enemy afoot.”

“Quickly men,” Ondoher muttered low. “The fate of Mablung in our hands, men. Death to anyone who would harm him! Now go!”

With that, the company moved quickly and quietly towards Mablung’s resting place.

Govadmiluin Sarianu

​So here they were in northern Rhudaur. Further north, Mhulo could make out the Ettenmoors, and the Coldfells to his east. Memories returning, he lifted his armored gauntlet to rest on his chest plate, still feeling the Orcish sword that had somehow penetrated his defenses that day, tearing into the upper torso near his shoulder. Aiwendil, the Brown Wizard, had worked miraculously to mend his ailments, and here Mhulo stood this eve- awaiting the company of Men that sought him.

Though the sun was still setting, the moon was already visible in the eastern skies. Amber and violet hues danced across the heavens, and pinholes of light that were the stars had just begun to make their nightly appearance. Soft, warm winds lifted the limbs of the scattered woodlands surrounding Mhulo and company, creating a distant rustle that reminded the dwarves of an ocean break.

The rock formation they inhabited was an arch of stone, and steps had been carved onto the ascending sides that led to the flat platform at its apex- which is where Mhulo took his watch. Patches of green weeds and sparse grass sprouted here and there through the cracks in the mineral, as father time had settled the conglomeration into the soft dirt. Govadmiluin Sarianu was its namesake, Mhulo believed. The letter he had received from the Gondorians, delivered to him by Cooper the Dunedain Ranger, had stated as much.

For the time being, it seemed as if the letter was accurate- Thalrir, the newest member of their battle company, keenly spotted a throng of armored figures eastward making their way to the stone arch, and gave alert. Soon enough, the Tree of Gondor could be seen enameled across the broad shields of the foremost warriors as they made their approach. Mhulo counted nine men, one of them mounted, and two of them were carrying what looked to be a heavy crate between them- his heart skipped a beat.

So it was true…Torvim shall be pleased indeed.

From the throng of visitors came a deep voice, and Mhulo discovered it belonged to the mounted warrior Ondoher, their leader as described in the letter.

“To be sure, I did not believe you’d have arrived so soon Master Dwarf. It is good to see friends in these cursed parts indeed!” exclaimed the man, dismounting his steed.

“We Dwarves are natural sprinters, dangerous over short distances! A few breaks were had along the way, however.” chimed Duk. Some chuckles rumbled through Mhulo’s company at the jest.

“Well met, Gondorian.” Came Mhulo’s meted reply, hand on his sword belt. “It seems we have crossed paths most fortunately. If all you say is true, you and your men have done a favor large to the folk of Durin’s lineage.”

The Gondorians approached, and the setting sun gave a muted glow to the steel they bore across their engraved bosoms. A few were covered by cloaks, rangers perhaps? Nasek leapt his goat down from the steps onto the rocky dirt below and dismounted, his mount’s hooves *clopping*. Ondoher’s mouth gaped briefly at the sight of such an animal, incredulous, but was shortly able to compose himself.

Two of the men ascended the rocky base and laid the Dwarven chest beneath the bridge. Mhulo descended the stairs of the archway to lay eyes on the contents of the chest.

“It was most favorable that my Lord Beren got word of it!” stated Ondoher. “Assuredly, we would be more than happy to pass on these relics to you folk of the Iron Hills. They are of gorgeous make, indeed, even more beautiful than we could have ever guessed in the South. We’ve had such little dealings with Dwarves ourselves, forgive our manner.”

“Aye, and for good reason, meaning no offence. Our people are most solitary. Now, our Loremaster sent us leagues from home for such a gift. Let’s see what that gift be…”

Duk and Dolvin followed Mhulo, shields slung, and even Nasek’s curiosity could not be sated. Speaking in Khuzdul, the three quietly and excitedly conversed as their leader opened the crate, and removed the contents within. Nasek’s war goat bleated, hopping back up the archway to feed on a patch of green leaf.

“By the beards of the Old…” whispered Mhulo.

A cloak of impeccable make fell like water over Mhulo’s armored hands. A brilliant blue the color of the Great Sea shimmered and shone, the cloth soft as a newborn calf. Furs lined the rim and shoulders of the cape, but all such features were simple compared to what appeared suddenly on the back-

As Mhulo stood to measure the cloak, holding it out before him, there shone a beam of starlight from the skies lighting up the cloth and showing its true nature. Silver lines grew along its face, crawling and curving until the final embroidery was revealed- a vast and intricate family tree that went all the way back to a single name at the top.

“Durin the Deathless!” exclaimed Dolvin. “Aye these Gondorians deserve a round of ale on our coin, at least. Kingly make, suppose it could be from the reign of Brilo the Blue?”

Nearly breathless from wonder, Mhulo took great care and handed the cloth to Duk, who stood motionless and quiet, seemingly afraid he would scare the cloak away simply by looking at it. Mhulo reached further into the chest and withdrew the final contents.

A set of three bound, leather tomes revealed themselves, plated in dark iron and bejeweled with dazzling sapphires in the spines. Shining Dwarvish runes framed the bound books, and they were all locked.

“Indeed, these are work for the Loremaster.” Mhulo said softly.

Placing his hand on the front of the first reader, Mhulo closed his eyes and meditated shortly. After a minute or two, when the Men of the West begun to murmur in the background, Ondoher silenced them curtly, and Mhulo finished his musings. Nasek had climbed back to the stairs of the bridge, shouting in Khuzdul, as his goat was curiously approaching the Gondorian warhorse, causing a ruckus. Nasek wrestled his goat away from the bystanders and remounted.

“Ondoher, my friend, wordless I stand.” Mhulo spoke as he approached the man.

Mhulo reached out to Ondoher and together the leaders clasped forearms, a show of solidarity and brotherhood.

“Indebted to your cause, we Dwarves of Durin be, leader of these free folk. These gifts will further enrich our history and culture, cementing an alliance between our people. Where we failed in our mission to retrieve these artifacts of old, you were victorious. How would you have us repay such a gift?” Offered Mhulo.

With a wide wave of his arm, Ondoher motioned towards one of his men.

“Mablung! Quick, lad.”

The warrior stepped forward, spear in one hand, shield in the other.

“This is the man to whom you owe gratitude, Master Dwarf. He went to grievous lengths to retrieve what you sought, and here we stand. He was mighty valorous in fighting off many a servant of evil, and to that end, he is your hero.” praised Ondoher. “Otherwise, simply provide what aid you can to our Northern kin.”

Mhulo looked over the boy (compared to the Dwarves, he was young at least).

“Ne’er a finer example of bravery in the face of such adversity, I’m sure.” beamed Mhulo. “Mablung, a noble name indeed. You are forever welcome in the halls of our people young pup. Mead or meat, gold or glory- If you seek it, I will lay myself down to ensure you have it. Nasek! To me! Reach into that saddle bag of yours, I wish to reward this man in the moment”

The war goat bleated as Nasek spurred it forward, still munching on some grass it had found earlier. Mablung stood tall, chest out- he was clearly flushed, but proud he was indeed. Mhulo reached into the saddle bag and pulled out a scabbard, flourishing the fine blade then sheathed it.

“Here my boy. This is no broad sword by your folks standards, but the smiths at home in the Iron Hills rival all those across the land. This should be by your side for as long as you wish, a reminder of how you’ve done us a great service. A good short sword it will make for you.” offered Mhulo.

Mablung bowed and took the sword graciously, with a smile as wide as the River Running.
“Many thanks, my lord.” replied Mablung.

“Songs will be sung of you Mablung. You are a hero to our people.” ended Mhulo.

And with that, the Dwarves of Mhulo’s company and the Men of Gondor set watch as their leaders pulled together privately. Gaieties aside, plans needed made, for there were evil winds stirring behind every hill and every bush.